Fall 2017 Special Issue
“The Cold War in Korean Cinemas,” guest edited by Steven Chung (Princeton University) and Hyun Seon Park (Yonsei University)
Ideas about the Cold War have undergone radical revision over the past two decades on two general fronts. The first has been the variously triumphalist or nostalgic marking of the end of the “war” with the fall of the Soviet and East European regimes. The second was the long-standing notion of the Cold War as an ideological one, a primarily nonviolent conflict of ideas structured by nuclear détente. The cinema and media cultures of Korea are particularly well-suited to giving the lie to these ideas and to advancing an understanding of the continuing complexities of the Cold War. From the late 1940s through to the present day, Korean cinemas on both sides of the divided peninsula have been saturated not only with the more easily palpable signs of national division but also with a range of subtler symptoms of ideological conflict. These are most salient in films produced at the height of the Cold War era, but are also traced in robust ways in very recent media productions and the policies that govern them. This special issue examines the ways in which Korean cinema and media cultures embody, push against, overturn and, perhaps most importantly, continue to foreground problems of the Cold War.
Fall 2018 Special Issue
“Science and Literature in North and South Korea,” guest edited by Dafna Zur (Stanford University) and Chris Hanscom (University of California at Los Angeles)
This special issue takes a critical approach to encounters with science as a normative discourse across Korea’s nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These encounters are considered through a broad range of texts including:scientific and technical magazines; fiction and literary criticism written during the colonial period (1910-45); popular science magazines for young and adult readers in postwar North and South Korea; and science fiction. The articles in this issue will engage with science as a discourse and as a practice – as a mode of understanding and representing the world but also of ordering aspects of that local reality – and will serve to both historicize and complicate the notion of reception and integration of normative systems of science and its textual manifestations. The issue will thus encourage an examination of the role of science as a mode of thought and expressions within dominant social and political regimes.
Fall 2019 Special Issue
“Archives, Archival Practice, and the Writing of History in Premodern Korea,” guest edited by Jungwon Kim (Columbia University)
For any scholar interested in the human past in all its complexity, archives have long been considered primary repositories of information essential to a given people’s history. In premodern Korea, archives were gathered and housed not only in official or state storerooms but in unofficial sites such as the libraries of lineage associations and local academies. The use of underutilized and rare materials from unofficial sites in particular has cast important light on what and who were left out of the conventional historiography of premodern Korea. At the same time, the exclusion of documents pertaining to the lives of marginalized people as legitimate subjects of history raises the question of the diverse possible approaches to archival collection itself, which involves a series of decisions as to what to archive or discard, and why. Archives are thus not only products of recordkeeping and sites for the production of knowledge but also rich subjects for historical and cultural studies. With its focus on archiving and archival documents in various premodern Korean contexts, this special issue takes the archive beyond its usual definition as a collection of historical documents of the past. By addressing topics such as the formation and use of archives and the role of archives in the circulation of knowledge, this issue invites a vital conversation about how histories of the archive might reshape stories written from the archives in premodern Korea.
Fall 2020 Special Issue
“Between the Sacred and the Secular: Christianity as Lived Experience in Modern Korea,” guest edited by Hyaeweol Choi (Australian National University)
Modern Korea has been characterized as a “secular” country, yet Protestant Christianity (hereafter Christianity) has long been a critical force in shaping virtually every aspect of modern Korean life since its introduction to Korea in the late nineteenth century. Christianity in Korea has been intertwined with the histories of Western imperialism, Japanese colonialism, modern nation-state building, democracy movements and most recently neoliberalism. It has also made significant imprint upon class formation, gender relations and everyday life practice. Furthermore, South Korea has become a leader in sending missionaries overseas, taking a prominent role in global Christianity. How should we understand the ubiquitous presence of Christianity in “secular” modern Korea and beyond? Recent scholarship suggests that the boundary between the sacred/religious and the secular/material has never been clear-cut. Rather, it has been and remains fluid and constitutive. This special issue invites papers that shed new light on the dynamic, sometimes conflicting and sometimes synergistic relationships that exist between the sacred and the secular. We are particularly interested in analyses that tease out the subtle but pervasive influence of Christianity within the sociopolitical, economic, cultural and affective domains. Taking Korea as a case study, the special issue ultimately aims to offer significant insights into the intersection of the religious with the secular, material and social.